J.D.R. Hawkins

One bullet can make a man a hero… or a casualty.

Archive for the tag “Union”

Five-Star Review for A Beckoning Hellfire

I received another five-star review for my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire. This is the second book in the Renegade Series. Thank you so much, Jose Popoff, for your outstanding review!

Jose Popoff

5.0 out of 5 starsVerified Purchase

A beautiful tale set in history

Reviewed in the United States 🇺🇸

America will always remember the Civil War as one of the most tragic events in their history. This story is set in that time and it is quite engrossing. The details and narrative are captivating and you can see how the author easily conveys a bevy of feelings in its characters.

But I think that, more importantly, there is a strong powerful message embedded within the words, sentences, and paragraphs. This is like a poetic salute to the delusion that war is honorable and whatnot. I have never seen a man die but I am guessing that there is nothing beautiful about it. This book exposes this through the experiences of David Summers.

Awesome Review for A Beautiful Glittering Lie

I received this review from the US Review of Books for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie. Thank you so much, Mihir Shah, for your flattering review!

A Beautiful Glittering Lie: A Novel of the Civil War (The Renegade Series)

by J.D.R. Hawkins

Westwood Books Publishing

Book review by Mihir Shah

“The voices of thousands of wounded soldiers rose up from the ground in an eerie, harmonious chorus.”

In typical Hawkins fashion, the spirit of the battle, its highest highs and lowest lows, has been impeccably captured from the perspective of ordinary citizens turned soldiers. In this first volume of the Renegade Series, the author delivers an incredibly realistic experience for the audience. Readers not only get to read about the Civil War in an engaging manner, but they also get to feel the era come to life with the characters, their mannerisms, dialogue, and the tensions that tug at them as they are forced into difficult choices.

While history has already chronicled the Civil War, novels like this one truly embody the essence of the catalyst that led to bloodshed and the ensuing emotional turmoil. The novel opens up with the President of the Confederate States, Jefferson Davis, declaring in no uncertain terms through a grand speech that war is inevitable. Just as jarring in the same opening scene, where morale is at an all-time high and dreams of glory are transcending reality, is the seemingly casual yet well-placed reference to “faithful slaves,” who were tending to the sprained ankle of a slave owner’s wife. From the onset, this historical novel sets the stage for what many future historians will likely perceive not as a battle between the Union and Confederacy but a fight for the nation’s identity, its soul.

Many storylines run concurrently, with the prequel shedding light on a young David Summers before he has become hardened by battle and softened by love. Characters like Hiram are beyond endearing, and one really is forced to wonder how many needless lives, how many broken homes, and how many unfinished stories stain the battlegrounds of the Civil War. While names like General Lee and Stonewall Jackson will certainly add an aura of familiarity for audiences, the ordinary lives of citizens like Hiram and Bud are the ones readers will root for because they are true reflections of unbiased humanity.

Whether in the budding relationship between David and his stallion, Renegade, or the innocence and purity of David learning to play the guitar, Hawkins has an uncanny knack for character development as she builds a backstory with the main characters that audiences of the other Renegade books will devour. Though David has yet to join the battlefield at this point, he represents the thousands of young men whose parents went to battle, leaving their sons to accelerate their coming-of-age stories and thrusting them into the role of protector and provider for their families.

Above all else, the narrative is based upon the prerequisite of placing each character out of his comfort zone. The result is seeing the indomitable human spirit rise in the face of the grimmest adversities. Although equipped with the same essential facts as one would find in a history book, Hawkins’s narrative stands out in its ability to bring these moments to life in a way that is universally relatable and evergreen. Free-flowing with intriguing character development against the backdrop of a bloody yet pivotal time in American history, this narrative is a compelling must-read.

RECOMMENDED by the US Review

Another Five-Star Review for A Beckoning Hellfire

I’m so honored to have received another five-star review for my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire. This is the second book in the Renegade Series. Thank you so much, Pacific Book Reviews and Arthur Thares, for your amazing review!

Title: A Beckoning Hellfire 

Author: J.D.R. Hawkins 

Publisher: Westwood Books Publishing 

ISBN: 978-1-64803-077-2 

Genre: Historical Fiction 

Pages: 234 

Reviewed by: Arthur Thares 

Pacific Book Review  

To write good historical fiction book, you must be skilled at both  research and imaginative storytelling, which is a tall order. However, J.D.R. Hawkins seems 

to do both with ease as she paints a realistic picture of the Civil War era using characters  that were grown in her imagination. A Beckoning Hellfire is part of something special in the  Renegade series, but it deserves individual accolades. 

The story begins unassumingly with the main character, David, on his family farm in  Alabama. A visitor arrives to deliver devastating news that will forever change the course  of David’s life. Though he had already decided to join the Confederate army, a tragic  accident speeds up his timeline, and he leaves his home with not much more than his  horse and best friend Jake in tow. David is searching for retribution, but what he finds is  the horrors and sadness of war. The trials and tribulations may prove to be too much for  the young Southerner who is only trying to do what he thinks is the right thing. 

Some people are born with the gift of storytelling, which is true of J.D.R. Hawkins, but she  has taken it to another level by creating stories with the history she is passionate about.  Her writing style shows she has a deep and intimate knowledge of the Civil War, especially  the Confederate side. The small details in her writing lend a genuine authenticity to the  story you don’t always find in fiction. One of the most admirable attributes of Hawkins’  writing is that she is not afraid to make her characters human; they have their faults and  aren’t invincible. 

A Beckoning Hellfire is a little difficult to read, not because of the book’s quality, but  because you know this fictional telling is not far off from the reality of the Civil War.  Although the content can sometimes be questionable, this book would be an excellent  story to introduce to older middle schoolers and above. It is a reminder of one of the worst  times in our nation and the sacrifices that were made, but being a work of fiction takes the  edge off of a harsh reality. Once you have read this book, there is no doubt you will want  to read the other books in Hawkins’ Renegade series.

Excellent Review for A Beckoning Hellfire

I received this flattering review from Hollywood Book Reviews for my novel, A Beckoning Hellfire. It is the second book in the Renegade Series. Thank you so much, Mr. Jack Chambers, for your awesome review!

Title: A Beckoning Hellfire: A Novel of the Civil War (The Renegade Series)
Author: J.D.R. Hawkins
Publisher: Westwood Books Publishing
ISBN: 978-1648030772
Pages: 249
Genre: Military Historical Fiction
Reviewed by: Jack Chambers


Hollywood Book Reviews
The realities of war are often far more brutal and harsher than the stories and imagery the governments of a nation will make it out to be. The search for glory and heroism will often outshine everything else, but those who find themselves in the midst of war will find more cruelty, fear, and bloodshed than any sense of glory they were promised. To find a means of preparing for war is far less likely the more one focuses on the morality of our world. As Sophocles once said, “War never takes a wicked man by chance, the good man always.”


In author J.D.R. Hawkins’s A Beckoning Hellfire: A Novel of the Civil War, the second book in The Renegade Series, the author takes readers into the dark realities of war and vengeance through the eyes of David Summers. The story finds David thrust from his farm in Northern Alabama and into the heart of the American Civil War on the battlefields in Virginia and Pennsylvania. The news of his father’s death in the Battle of Fredericksburg rocks David to his core, and he goes in search of vengeance against the people he blames for his passing. Yet as time goes on and the war looms large over him, he begins to lose the bloodlust that drove him forward as the battles wear on him physically and mentally, leading to a haunted look at the human cost of the American Civil War.


As a reader who has had the pleasure of reading several books in this historical fiction series, I was immediately drawn into the author’s familiar yet always engaging focus on historical accuracy and cinematic writing style. The emotional and psychological weight of the Civil War has never felt more profound, as the author does an excellent job of showcasing both sides of the war and the many different realities of those fighting on the frontlines of battle. The atmosphere was definitely heavy, and the haunting tone the author’s writing struck was a great way of highlighting the plight of the common man who fought in this war, rather than focusing on the historical figures or wealthy landowners who fueled the war behind the scenes.


This is the perfect book for those who enjoy historical fiction reads, especially those that enjoy historical fiction that focuses on American History, in particular the American Civil War. The balance the author found between the historical accuracy and the rich character development was great to see, as David’s evolution throughout the narrative was the heart and soul of this narrative. The reader gets a true sense of the horrors and weariness that overcame the average soldier during the war, and made for a wellrounded reading experience.


Thought-provoking, adrenaline-fueled, and historically entertaining, author J.D.R. Hawkins’s A Beckoning Hellfire: A Novel of the Civil War is a must-read historical fiction novel and a great entry into the author’s The Renegade Series. The haunting imagery and detailed accuracy of the battles and death that many soldiers experienced during that time puts a real human element into this fictional story, and will leave fans eager for more of the author’s incredible work.

Excerpt from A Beautiful Glittering Lie

I am frequently asked how I came up with the title for my novel, A Beautiful Glittering Lie (the first book in the Renegade Series). I derived it from this wonderful quote, which a Confederate soldier wrote in his journal.

“For it was the first Field of Glory I had seen in my May of life, and the first time that Glory sickened me with its repulsive aspect, and made me suspect it was all a glittering lie.” – Henry Morton Stanley, C.S.A. 

It is difficult to imagine what went through the young soldiers’ minds when they finally “saw the elephant” – horrifying, no doubt, and exhilarating at the same time. But soldiers weren’t the only ones who experienced such terror. This excerpt describes how their loved ones must have felt. Some of them never received word of what had happened to their brave soldiers. War always involves tragedy, but I think not knowing would be the worst part.

Word of the battle quickly spread to Huntsville, and within days, filtered down into Morgan County. Caroline had mentally prepared herself for what she anticipated would happen, but when the first battle finally did take place, she found herself ill-equipped. She did her best to shelter her brood, but realized it was just a matter of time before they learned of the event.

The following week, she found out that a list of fatalities had been posted, and knew she had to drive to Ben Johnson’s mercantile to have a look, but all the while, her heart felt as though it was breaking. She dreaded the list, dreaded the result of the terrible fighting, and especially, dreaded what the war might be doing to her home. Going alone, she reached her destination, climbed down from the wagon, hitched her draft horse, and approached the two-story wooden structure, her ankle boots clunking up the wooden steps and across the porch’s floorboards as she walked. She pulled the front door open, and a tiny bell above it announced her arrival. As she entered, she saw several others gathered around a notice that had been tacked to the wall. Ben Johnson nodded. He threw a glance toward the posted list. She knew what it meant.

Slowly, feeling as though she was floating, she passed by the dry goods, glass cases displaying pottery, clothing and sewing notions, and under farm equipment hanging from the ceiling rafters, approaching the others. Some of the women were sobbing, covering their faces with handkerchiefs, while others turned away and stared at her with vacant eyes. As they drifted off, she stepped toward the ominous poster, held her breath, and forced herself to gaze upon the names. When she had reached the bottom, she breathed a sigh of relief. Hiram’s name wasn’t on the list, although she recognized one who was. Turning toward the counter, she wiped a trickling tear from her cheek as she walked over, and requested a copy of the Southern Advocate.

Initially at a loss for words, Ben cleared his throat. “I reckon Hiram’s name ain’t on there,” he finally said.

The revelation had started sinking in. Caroline smiled. “No, thankfully not.”

Ben returned the smile. “Right glad to hear it.” He handed her a newspaper. “The editor of this paper, Mr. William Figures, has a son who’s with your husband’s regiment.”

“Oh?” she replied cordially. “He’s all right ain’t he? I mean, I didn’t see …”

“Yes ma’am, far as I can tell.”

“That’s mighty fine. Well, I’ll be on my way. Good day, Mr. Johnson.”

She turned to leave, and as she opened the paned-glass door, Ben called out, “When you write to that man of yours, tell him I said hello.”

“I surely will,” she replied. Walking out to the wagon, she untied Joe Boy, climbed aboard, and slapped the reins. She drove out of view from the mercantile, and pulled the vehicle to a stop. Uncontrollably, she burst into tears, sobbing convulsively until the ache in her heart finally subsided. She couldn’t show her weakness to her children: for them she had to be strong. After wiping her eyes with her handkerchief, she drove on toward home.

Double-Edged Sword Receives New Review

I received another wonderful review from Hollywood Book Reviews for my new novel, Double-Edged Sword. This is the fourth book in the Renegade Series, and tells the story of a family from Alabama who experience the horrors of the Civil War and Reconstruction. Thank you, Manik Chaturmutha, for your review!


J.D.R. Hawkins’ historical fiction Double-Edged Sword: A Novel of Reconstruction delves into the American Civil War which has destroyed cities and livelihoods. Amidst the tense atmosphere of conflict, a family attempts to recover socially and emotionally. However, the post-war continues to affect the many relations within the family; also, the external forces threaten to complicate their relationships even more. The prologue introduces the novel’s background and is ominous about the tangled story that lies ahead.

David Summers is an ex-confederate soldier who fought against the government, the Yankees, for his state of Alabama in the war. Recently released from prison, he travels home with his newly-wedded and pregnant wife, Anna. When he meets his family after a long time, he hopes it will provide him with some much-needed respite from the trauma of war, but not quite. David’s mother is disappointed that he ran away to the north to fight, leaving his family behind. Moreover, he married Anna, a Yankee. As his familial relations get strained, so does his marriage. Anna is desperate to return to her home as she faces a gruelling pregnancy, making her resent David. Furthermore, a sort of love quadrangle between David, Anna and their former suitors/friends threatens to crack their marriage.

Anna’s close friend Stephen is envious of David for having married her. David’s friend, Callie, is heartbroken since she assumed they would be married. Callie’s friendship with David causes a rift in his marriage, prompting Anna to leave for home. However, when David joins Anna in the north, he has a violent falling out with Stephen. This lands him in jail and the midst of a precarious court case. Will David be able to prove himself and live a life with his family? This is what remains to be found out.

Hawkins’ world-building through her vivid, imagery-filled text is sublime and compelling. She evokes a sense of nostalgia for a world that had been built before the war, and regrets for the way it exists after. The narrative consists of many strands–the post-war recovery of David and his family, marriage troubles with his wife and suspense regarding his future when he is jailed. Likewise, enough space is provided to fully imbibe the impact of all the unfolding plot themes. The characters of David and Anna are well-fleshed out, and their relationship is honestly written. The dialogues have been reported in the typical Southern-American dialect, thus providing a remarkable genuineness. It is a fascinating read. Readers of historical fiction with a dash of war drama, romance and suspense will enjoy this book.

Goodreads Giveaway

Goodreads is giving away 100 ebook copies of my new novel, Double-Edged Sword! This is the fourth book in the Renegade Series, and has already received several five-star reviews. The giveaway is going on now, and will run through August 3. Here is the link so that you can enter to win. Best of luck!

Double-Edged Sword Receives Another Five-Star Review

I recently received another five-star review for my new novel, Double-Edged Sword. This is the fourth book in the Renegade Series. Thank you so much, Grady Harp, for your flattering review!

Grady HarpTop Contributor: Children’s Books

HALL OF FAMETOP 100 REVIEWER

5.0 out of 5 stars The aftermath and scars of the Civil War

Reviewed in the United States on July 9, 2022

Verified Purchase

Author/singer/songwriter JDR Hawkins writes novels and articles for newspapers, magazines, e-zines and blogs about the Civil War from the Confederate perspective. Her RENEGADE Series is rapidly winning multiple awards and there are four volumes – A REBEL AMONG US, A BEAUTIFUL GLITTERING LIE, A BECKONING HELLFIRE, and this volume DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD. These novels relate the story of a family from northern Alabama who experience immeasurable pain when their lives are dramatically changed by the war.

Though a novel of the past, at this particular time in our history, when questions are being raised about the validity of statues and memorabilia of the Civil War, creating heated discussions and confrontations, this book offers a fresh view of the Civil War from the Southern, and Confederate, stance. Hawkins makes this revisit to the Confederate South lively with her eloquent prose as she opens this volume four: ‘ The constant ric-atata, ric-atata of the wheels rolling against the rails lulled him. Sweat beaded on his forehead, and he found it difficult to breathe in the warm, humid, almost unbearable air. The soft whispering breeze of his wife’s handheld fan gently whispered against his cheek. His mind eased. Voices seeped into his conscience, growing louder as they neared him. ‘Over here!” a man yelled. “Bring that torch!” A flame came into view. It quickly exploded into a fury of fire against the night sky. What appeared to be phantoms floated around burning buildings…’The scene established, the novel begins.

The plot is outlined as follows: ‘The Civil War has ended. Confederate cavalryman, David Summers, returns home to Alabama, taking his new wife, Anna, with him. Upon arrival, he understands how much the war has changed him and has scarred his homeland. Faced with challenges of transition, he learns how to navigate his new world, along with the pain and trauma of his past. He is also forced to confront his foes, including Stephen Montgomery. Their hatred for one another inevitably boils over into a fierce confrontation, whereby David is arrested. Will the jury believe his side of the story, even though he is an ex-Confederate? Or will he be hung for his crime?’

This is a timely novel that will hopefully add new dimensions of thinking about the Civil War and its persistent scars. Grady Harp, July 22

Five-Star Review for Double-Edged Sword from Readers’ Favorite

I received another five-star review for my new novel, Double-Edged Sword. This is the fourth book in the Renegade Series. Thank you so much, Readers’ Favorite, for the wonderful review!

Reviewed by: Romuald Dzemo

Review Rating: 5 Stars – Congratulations on your 5-star review!


Reviewed by Romuald Dzemo for Readers’ Favorite

Double-Edged Sword: A Novel of Reconstruction by J.D.R. Hawkins is a mesmerizing historical novel set against the backdrop of the years following the Civil War in Alabama. The protagonist is a Confederate cavalryman, David Summers, who returned home to Alabama after the war as a broken man. While his past and the horrors of the war still haunt him, he also has a broken land before him. As he struggles to fit into the new reality, he quickly understands that he still has many enemies to face. A confrontation between David and his long-time arch enemy, Stephen Montgomery, leads to David’s arrest. When he faces the jury, will he find favor with them or will they hang him?

J.D.R. Hawkins’ evocative writing and a strong sense of imagery are two elements in this narrative that help to paint a fascinating, credible picture of Alabama following the Civil War. The author shows readers compelling glimpses of the effects of the war, writing beautifully about the relationships and family dynamics. Characters like Kit are appealing and the author uses Kit to redefine friendship. I loved the beautifully crafted dialogue and Hawkins’ deft handling of conflict. Another character who will instantly gain the interest of readers is Anna, who accompanies David to Alabama. While they are in love, she is conflicted as she is from the north and her apprehension shines through the narrative. Double-Edged Sword is a brilliantly conceived novel that examines the challenges during the reconstruction period after the war. It is a formidable tour de force and a gem for fans of historical novels set around the time of the Civil War.

Double-Edged Sword Featured and New Giveaway

My new novel, Double-Edged Sword, was featured in this month’s Pikes Peak Writers newsletter. Here is what they had to say:

Sweet Success
~~ Celebrating the Success of our members ~~
Congratulations to J.D.R. Hawkins! Her newest novel, DOUBLE-EDGED SWORD, recently released from Westwood Books Publishing. This is the fourth book in her Renegade series, historical fiction centered around the American Civil War. Purchase a copy through Amazon, and visit the author at www.jdrhawkins.com and follow her on AllAuthor.comFacebook,  Goodreads,  Instagram,  Pinterest, and Twitter.

In more news, keep an eye out for my upcoming giveaway on Goodreads. I’ll keep you posted about this.

Book Giveaway For Double-Edged Sword

Double-Edged Sword by J.D.R. Hawkins

Double-Edged Sword

by 

J.D.R. Hawkins (Goodreads Author)

Release date: Apr 18, 2022

We’re giving away 100 ebook copies of this novel by bestselling, award-winning author J.D.R. Hawkins. Enter today! 

Format:Kindle book

Availability:100 copies available, 0 people requesting

Giveaway dates:Jul 22 – Aug 03, 2022

Countries available: U.S.

Thank you so much for your ongoing support! I appreciate you so much!

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